Will NASA launch Artemis 1 rocket on time after successful fuel test?

The next Artemis 1 launch may be attempted as soon as next week, with NASA seeing that it has met all the goals it had planned to make to consider its rocket’s fuel test a success.

NASA had to test adding supercooled fuel to the SLS tanks to confirm repairs it had made after it called off the mission’s second launch attempt in late August.

The ground team at the Kennedy Space Center discovered a persistent hydrogen leak affecting one of the SLS’s fuel lines at the time and attempted to repair it three times a day. In the end the team did not succeed and decided to postpone the task.

The team determined a few days later that the leak had occurred when the SLS rocket’s primary booster tank briefly experienced excessive pressure. To prevent the same accident, the team modified the procedures for filling the rocket’s tank with propellant, which involves changing temperatures and pressures more slowly to prevent rapid changes that could cause a leak, Engadget reported.

The team’s engineers also replaced the rocket’s liquid hydrogen seals after discovering a small hole in one of them that may have contributed to the leak.

While the engineers encountered another hydrogen leak while testing the fuel, this time their troubleshooting efforts were successful and got the leak “within permitted rates.”

This allowed them to run a pre-pressure test, which raised the liquid hydrogen tank’s pressure level to match what it would test before the actual launch.

Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, Artemis 1 launch director, said testing went “really well” and that the team was able to achieve all the goals it had planned to do.

NASA will evaluate the data from the test before deciding if it can schedule another mission launch on the target date of September 27.

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